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History of the Forest Products Laboratory

Interview #923: Geimer, Robert L. (June, 2009)

View all of First Interview Session (April 15, 2008)

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00:23:09 - 00:28:26 Projects

projects, challenges, research, work, opportunities, budget, grants

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I see. So what are some of the things that you found most challenging about your work here? Was there a particular job or project that you worked on that was you found particularly challenging or just one in general that you found particularly challenging or just one in general did you think was a challenge for you?


Well, I don't know. Research in itself is a challenge, if you do a good job, because you're always looking at the far out, or the cutting edge if you want to call it that, and I enjoyed that, I enjoyed not knowing exactly what was going to happened the next or how it was going to come out. But being able to work around that type of a deal and I think a good researcher has that. So I thought the---I guess to put it this way, I think that the Lab allows you to be challenged. You have to make your own story, at this particular laboratory you make your own, you actually do a lot of making your own path which way to go and where to go and what to get into and you have to be aware of if your getting stagnant or if whatever you're working on is not going to fly. Or a lot of times you're working on things that are ten, twenty years down the pipe from being put into use and so you have to be very careful that you don't get off, you know, in the wrong trough on it. But in the other sense you have that ability to do that here at the Lab, it's a freedom that many people who've never worked in industry don't realize, it's a real advantage. One of the things that I, when I came here I had a heck of a time adapting to this lone-ness, I guess it is what it is, of how things develop; open research and government as compared to industry. My God if we wanted something done in industry we made up our minds and in a couple days we'd have things rolling, but here you'd have to go through a lot of steps.

On the other hand, there's a reason for that and by going along and with the type you have a good chance, like I say, you can have an opportunity to do your own thing that you don't have outside. You're not driven by the almighty dollar that you have to show on next month's budget, but you know. And so it---and people who come directly into the lab, you know, without working in industry, will do a lot of complaining you know and I had already found it, I found out that man there was a lot of opportunities here that didn't exist any other place. I tried to make use of that, I usually have maybe, I would say I had four or five major projects going at one time and in order to keep that up you'd have maybe four or five in the basket trying to whip together and keep going on it. Originally when I came here the Lab was flooded almost entirely out of the US, out of the budget and when I left a large portion of the funds here came from grant money and that changed the situation considerably. There was, you had to spend a good portion of your time looking for money, looking for grants. It had its advantages but it certainly had a lot of disadvantages to it. And the other thing with it was that a lot of the grants are government grants and therefore you're not eligible for a lot of the grants that other people have coming to you so you're restricted so the whole, it makes it pretty difficult from that standpoint.

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